The Application of Self-Congruity Theory in Tourism: a Review of Literature

Topics: Tourism, Brand, World Tourism Organization Pages: 12 (3278 words) Published: August 13, 2013
This article will attempt to provide a theoretical framework of the development of the self-congruent theory utilized in tourism by reviewing relevant literatures, highlighting landmark opinions and comparing the constructive models regarding pertinent issues, including destination image, destination branding, tourist destination choice, consumer needs, motivation, tourist segmentation etc. This article attempts to build a comprehensive model focusing on the vital role of self-congruity in the process of destination choice in a broad societal and cultural context.
KEYWORDS. Self-congruity, destination image, destination branding, tourist destination choice, self-image, self-concept

1. Introduction
Tourism, as the business of attracting visitors and catering to their needs, has rapidly grown into the world’s largest industry, surpassing autos, steel, electronics, and agriculture (McIntosh, Goeldner, and Ritchie 1995). In current society, there exists fierce competition in the tourism industry. To be more specific, excessive destinations attempt to attract more tourists by adopting various marketing methods. In that case, the study of tourist behavior during the destination choosing process is becoming increasingly important. This article mainly conducts a research in consumer from the perspective of self-concept in order to help to explain the psychological underpinnings of travel behavior. Indeed, consumer research has had a long tradition of addressing how self-concept is used as a cognitive referent in evaluating symbolic cues. In today's highly competitive market, consumers are not only surrounded by numerous brands but also exposed to many different marketing practices that are developed to differentiate these brands from their competitors. The concept of branding has been extensively applied to products and services in the generic marketing field (Blain, Levy, & Ritchie, 2005), but brands are found in many categories of tourism products and permeate almost all facets of tourism activities (Cai, 2002).

2. Identification of concepts

2.1 Self-image and self-concept

James(1890) defined the self-concept as all that we call our own, and with whom or with which we share a bond of identity. Many other traditional definitions of the self-concept focus on a unitary self (e.g., Allport 1943; Cooley 1902; Lecky 1945; Mead 1934). Self-concept is the sum total of individuals’ ideas, thoughts and feelings about themselves in relation to other objects in a socially determined frame of reference (Onkvisit and Shaw 1987; 1994), representing a perception of one’s abilities, limitations, appearance, characteristics, and personality. One part of self-concept is the notion of self-esteem, or the assessments of self-worth and self-respect (Rosenberg 1979: 54). Another part of self-concept is comprised of self-image, or the set of attributes used by people to describe what they are like (Kimmel and Tissier-Desbordes 1999; Sirgy, Grewal, Manglebrug, Park, Chon, Claiborne, Johar, and Berkman 1997). The concept is multi-dimensional, encompassing such components as the actual-self (how individuals perceive themselves to be), the ideal-self (how an individual would like to be), an actual social self-image (how the individual thinks others view him/her self), and an ideal social self-image (how the individual would like others to view him/her self) (Mollenkopf and Moore 1999).

2.2 Destination image and branding

Tourists have stereotypic images of different destinations. Some researchers propose that the destination environmental cues attributes to the formation of destination image. Destination atmospheric cues, such as the natural landscape, historic interests, hotel design, and tourism infrastructure, form the overall context within which tourists make travel and patronage decisions and are likely to have a significant impact on...

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